Meet Melbourne super-group Telenova, and their enchanting new single, Tranquilize
Consisting of three heavyweights in Melbourne's art world, Telenova follow up their debut single with a second, wonderful new jam.
Header image by Clint Peloso.
Although Telenova only made their debut with their first single Bones earlier this year, the group's three members have been heavyweights in Victoria's live music space for a decade now. Consisting of multi-disciplinary local favourite Angeline Armstrong, Slum Sociable's Edward Quinn and Miami Horror's Joshua Moriarty, the trio bring together a lifetime of musical experience condensed into genre-combining brilliance, where their overlapping worlds come together to create striking moments of hazy alt-electronic-R&B-esque versatility.
Brought together by Death Cab For Cutie guitarist Chris Walla at a songwriting camp in 2020, Bones brought an introductory taste as to what to expect from Telenova. It drew early comparisons to Portishead and Massive Attack, with a slow-burning trip-hop sound moulding around the vocals of Angeline, who gave the single a more pop-like touch. Then, there was the further complexities added by Edward and Josh's instrumentation, which takes the song into a more indie-leaning world; the final song feeling like a mix of tastes and flavours spanning decades of musicianship.
"It reminded me of this feeling I’ve had of being so trapped inside my own head, my own skin and bones," said Angeline Armstrong on the single, which arrives as an early release from the newly-founded Pointer Recordings. "We started to envision this elaborate narrative of melancholia and longing, a girl trapped in her own bones… her own disillusionment."
Their new-arriving single Tranquilize makes it two-from-two for the band, deeper solidifying their rich blend of sounds while showing how it can move into further areas, taking on new energies - or emphasising other energies - as more songs come to light. Tranquillize, for example, has a heavier weighting on that live instrumentation, giving the song this more alt-pop-meets-R&B spin when combined with Angeline's brilliant-as-ever vocals.
As she explains, the single was the first for Telenova, written on the day they began working with one another. "I was actually flicking through a thesaurus and the word ‘Tranquilize’ jumped out at me, it just rang so nicely on the tongue and was so inherently visceral," she says. "I was humming gibberish over the hypnotic Rhodes chords that Josh had laid down, and we heard what sounded like ‘Poseidon’s on the water’ - it was the first time in a writing session with Ed and Josh, and the first time I’d been in a writing session where a poetic, literary lyric idea like that wasn’t shunned and coined as ‘unrelatable’. It resonated. We followed the thread, playing into Siren mythology as a metaphor for falling in love - the power of attraction to transfix and tranquillize you."
The single also arrives with an official video clip, directed by Angeline - solidifying her multi-talented craft. "I wanted to capture the world of the song in a Lynchian-inspired dreamscape - starry-eyed and a little unhinged - but like, David Lynch meets Gucci," she says.
Take a listen to the single and watch its video clip below, and underneath, better introduce yourself to the trio, as they move towards the release of more to come later in the year:
Tell us about yourself?
Well, we’re Ed, Josh & Ange...we’ve all been playing music for as long as we can remember, but this Telenova configuration is relatively new. Honestly, it feels like we’ve stumbled on something really special. The first time we met, it was one of the easiest songwriting sessions I’d ever been in (Ange) and it’s been pretty breezy since. I think we all have a similar work ethic, we’re open to letting the magic happen, but sometimes you also just are not feeling it that day - but you show up because there’s a session in the calendar, and you just write and mess around with chords and keep drafting and re-drafting and trying new things until you find the magic again. None of us are believers in sort of sitting idly and waiting for an idea to hit you, you make the ideas happen by constantly creating.
Ange: I come from a filmmaking background and am naturally drawn to sonic elements and lyrics that remind me of the films I love - the works of David Lynch, Spike Jonze, Jean-Luc Godard, Sofia Coppola. We’ve actually been to the movies quite a few times together as a band now (cute) and I think that pursuit of the cinematic, the emotive, the very visceral and visual experience that music can offer, is quite intuitive for all of us. We naturally gravitate towards it and that’s been so fulfilling for me creatively. I kinda feel like I get to put all my writing/directing skills to use, channeling that kind of imagination through the medium of music. It’s pretty amazing how those two artistic mediums interplay. And I feel so lucky to still be in a place where I’m able to do both.
What’s your music like? What does it sound like? What kind of themes does it usually cover?
Josh: We’ve been describing it to anyone who asks us (and some people who didn’t..) as 60’s trip-hop. I think the 60’s side of it is in the chords we choose to use and a bunch of the instrumentation and classic songwriting nature of it, the trip-hop side is the beats our special boy Edward Quinn aka Dr. Dope brings to the studio party. Theme wise lyrically we just try to grab onto anything that titillates and take it as far poetically as we can. I’m a little on the darker side I guess so I always try push things into the macabre where Ange is a little lighter and I think that balance works.
What are your production and writing processes usually like?
Ed: Very easy going I suppose. Bounce around a couple of references and off we go. For better or worse, nothing is off the table.
One of our strengths (if you can call it that?) is knowing when an idea is dogshit and to move on. Sounds silly, but in my early 20s, I (Ed) would always labour over some idea for some ungodly amount of time and end up wasting days on ideas that were never going to go anywhere. With this project, we’ve got enough faith in each others’ ideas that if one is terrible, there’s going to be a better one around the corner. Pretty standard really.
Can you tell us a bit about your new single, Tranquilize?
Ange: It’s a pretty special one for us! We wrote it the very first day we all met, and all in one day. Other than re-recording the instruments and vocals to be tiptop and polished, it’s pretty much the same song you hear now in terms of arrangement and parts and lyrics. Probably the fastest song we’ve ever written together because we were at an APRA Songhubs songwriting camp and trying to impress each other (songwriting camps are good for that haha.)
I was actually flicking through a thesaurus and the word Tranquilize jumped out at me, it just rang so nicely on the tongue and was so inherently visceral. Seemed to make sense with the music that Josh & Ed were putting down. I was humming gibberish over the hypnotic Rhodes chords that Josh was playing, and we heard what sounded like ‘Poseidon’s on the water’ - it was the first time in a writing session with Ed and Josh, and the first time I’d been in a writing session where a poetic, literary lyric idea like that wasn’t shunned and coined as ‘unrelatable’. It resonated. We followed the thread, playing into Siren mythology as a metaphor for falling in love - the power of attraction to transfix and tranquillize you.
What do you have planned for 2021?
Ed: OOOOO don’t you worry about that THANK YOU VERY MUCH it’s really none of your business! Good day!
Ange: ^ lol, Ed. We’re super excited to record the album. Write the next one. Play lots of live shows for the people we love. Make magic. Outside of the world of Telenova my 2021 plans are have more romantic dinners and light more scented candles and have longer baths.
What do you want people to take away from your work?
Josh: I guess for me I want people to enjoy a lush sonic experience; I want the chord movements and the melodies to feel whimsical and nostalgic. I think lyrically there always needs to be something biting mixed with something beautiful because really that is what life is about right? I’d like to write music that people want to show their friends and feel excited about. When I show people my favourite tunes there always has to be some incredible lyric or some bad ass chord change that makes your ears prick up, that’s what I want to create and have people experience.
Where can we find more of your music?
Josh: You might need to ask Jeeves but I’m pretty sure it’s up on our Myspace? Hopefully we should have CD’s at the counter of your nearest Starbucks soon
Ange: We just released our debut music video for Tranquilize (on YouTube now) and that’s probably a killer way to have an introduction to the Telenova universe in both the visual and musical sense. We’re putting out music on all the usual channels - Spotify, Apple etc. - and we’re getting some pretty sweet air time on Triple J, so as my housemates and family have been informing me - you can hear Telenova in David Jones, on the way to work, walking past a construction site, and while you’re on the road on holiday with your 3-year-old son. (Legit, one of our fave photographer collaborators was recently driving on a Queensland holiday and Bones came on and his lil boy was like “i love this song dada” cos he’d heard it on the radio before haha. Glad to hear we’re hitting a very intergenerational market with our music).